Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Long Trial and a Lost Summer

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A long hot summer has somehow led me away from this blog for too long. Well, that, and a five-week trial that put my entire life on hold and made a day at the circus look like a mundane 9-5 job. In the span of those weeks, there were full days of trial, half days of trial, adjournments for fake medical emergencies and entertaining games of “Where’s Waldo” in the courthouse as we attempted to locate the opposing party so we could continue. Those long days taught me many a lesson:
  • Have Additional Copies of Your Evidence. A good portion of trial time was spent waiting for the opposing party to find additional copies of his evidence. Rather than have any organization, he showed up with a large pile of papers and spent time just going through the documents, page by page, introducing some documents, reading from other documents and generally engaging in a level of filibuster that would make a politician proud. Instead, my client and I have our exhibits pre-marked, with copies for the opposing party, the witness and the Court (when requested) and my copies on my iPad with my notes for examination.
  • Remember What the Case is Actually About. When we finally got to the actual allegations at trial, opposing party spent his time, hours upon hours, on issues that were not jurisdictionally before the Court. Many of the issues had already been decided more than five years ago and had been upheld on appeal on multiple occasions. Despite the wild and irrelevant assertions, it was important to stay on message and stick with our trial plan and not get sucked in to the morass caused by the opposing party. It was tempting to deviate from our strategy, but our strategy, hatched five months in advance of the hearing, had been battle tested and planned out deliberately and worked better than allowing the trial to degrade further.
  • A Summation is the End of Your Case. When the Court finally decided to conclude the case, both sides were allowed 30 minutes for closing. Opposing party did his closing, I did my closing, and then opposing party demanded a rebuttal. As there were a few minutes remaining before the Courthouse closed, the Court allowed the rebuttal. But then at the end of the rebuttal, the opposing party began to produce more papers and attempted to add more evidence to the record. What ensued was an entertaining explanation that a summation is the end of your case, not a pause in the case.
  • Leave the Evidence, Take the Cannoli. At the end of the case, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, the opposing party attempted to leave the courthouse with some of the documents that had been placed in evidence during the trial. The Court officers had to chase him down before he left and made him return the documents to the Court’s file. Rule of thumb, the evidence stays behind.
For more information on trial practice or to schedule a consultation, please call my office (718.568.0221) or visit my website ( for more information.

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